Ilford FC faced a “tough defeat” against both Athletic Newham and Covid on Saturday, losing 0-3 as seven players were missing from the squad.

Substitutes were swiftly drafted into the team to cover the last-minute Covid absences, as Ilford prepared to face a team eight places higher in the league table. The new players could not maintain performance and Newham’s first goal came just before the half-time whistle.

“We performed well for 44 minutes, but we lacked any fire power or end product,” said Adam Peek, Ilford’s manager. “We switched off from a free kick and they scored literally in half-time, which is the worst time to concede.”

Despite the scoreline, Ilford spirits were high going into the second half.

“We felt we were in the game,” Peek said. “Although they had scored we could still pick something up, but we had to be better in the final third.” He encouraged Ilford to be more positive with the ball and keep the work rate high.

This intensity saw them fight off Newham for a solid 20 minutes, before Peek changed tactics. He explained: “It was 1-0 until around 65 or 70 minutes, so we decided to go a bit more attacking, leaving us shorter at the back. There was more space and to be fair Newham took full advantage of that.”

Peek said he did not blame the irregular line up for the outcome, adding: "It was a tough game and not a great performance." For Saturday's fixture against White Ensign, he said the team need to improve play in the offensive third of the pitch.

“We know it will be a tough physical game,” Peek said. “We will need to be more adventurous going forward and create more, but we hope to have the seven players back which will help.

“Everyone is being affected by Covid and it's a disruption to the squad - especially when you get positive cases on a Friday or Saturday morning - but we are dealing with it and ensuring we follow protocol.”